Catechism class was over and all the young students left school to go home; all except David who stayed behind.
“Father, may I have a word please?” he said.
Father Ignatius nodded.
“Father,” continued the young lad hesitantly, “why did God not save Jesus from the Cross? Why did He have to die to save us from our sins? Surely God could have forgiven us without Jesus having to suffer such a cruel death!”
The priest marvelled at such a profound question from someone so young. He had to choose his words carefully in trying to answer him.
“Let’s see …” he started gently, “we know from the Old Testament that at the beginning, when God decided the time is right, He started talking to humanity through the prophets. Through the Holy Spirit, God told the prophets, the leaders of the people at the time if we can call them that, what to teach everyone. God told the prophets about Himself, the creation of humanity and the whole universe, and even predicted the coming of Christ into the world as a human being.”
The young man nodded.
“Despite all the teachings of the prophets over a long period of time, people still lived their own way and sinned. We read how they sinned when God, through Moses, got them out of slavery in Egypt. There are so many examples of humanity sinning in the Old Testament. Do you understand?” asked Father Ignatius.
“Yes Father,” replied David nodding again.
“So, yet again, when God decided the time is right, He sent His only Son Jesus into the world.
“He sent Jesus so that we may see God in human form. A man, just like us. Jesus did not start to exist when He was born on earth. He always existed as a Spirit. This is one of the mysteries of our faith which we cannot understand. Not yet anyway.
“When we pray the Credo we say, I believe in one God, and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, and born of the Father before all ages. God of God, light of light, true God of true God. Begotten not made, consubstantial to the Father, by whom all things were made.
“Born of the Father … begotten not made … this means not made like He made all of us. Before all ages … this means Jesus has always existed as a Spirit. He became man when He was born on earth yet remained always God, as He always was and still is.”
“I understand,” said David tentatively.
“Good,” smiled the priest, “now Jesus came on earth so that humanity may see Him as a man, one of us. He taught about God His Father, He lived a pure gentle life loving mankind and teaching us to love one another; and He performed many miracles to glorify God as the omnipotent loving Father of mankind.
“Now we come to your questions …” the priest smiled again.
“Let us imagine your scenario of events. Jesus comes to earth, teaches the people and is not killed. He grows old and perhaps one day He dies of old age like the prophets before Him; or perhaps He is raised to Heaven as happened after the Resurrection.
“What then? Would He perhaps have been treated just like any other prophet? Would He have been believed as being the Son of God? We can only guess these questions.”
Father Ignatius stopped for a moment or two to let the young man consider the situation. He then continued.
“What we must realise, David,” he said, “is that God did not kill Jesus. It was humanity… people … who killed Jesus. God, being all knowing, knew from the beginning of time that this would happen. He predicted it many times through the prophets’ teaching in the Old Testament.
“Did you know there are more than 300 prophesies about Jesus in the Old Testament that He fulfilled in His life. Some prophesies He had no personal control over - like where He would be born, the manner of His death and suffering, where He would be buried. The fact that on His Death the Romans would not break His legs as they did to the other two crucified with Him. The fact that the Roman soldiers would divide His clothes amongst themselves and gamble for His robe whilst He hung from the Cross.”
“Wow …” said David.
“Yes … wow indeed,” repeated the priest, “God … and Jesus … knew from always that humanity will rebel against Christ and His teachings. That people would prefer sin to His teachings. That He would be crucified and die a most horrible death. Can you imagine what it was like for Jesus, as a young boy like you, to know what is to happen to Him?
“Why did God not save Jesus, as you have wisely asked?”
The boy smiled.
“He could have … As Jesus said when before Pilate … My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.
“God knew what was going to happen to Jesus, but He allowed it to happen. Had He stopped it, as you suggest, He would have interfered with humanity’s free will. God gave us the free will to do as we wish. Even to be evil to the point of killing His Son. You can’t give humanity free will and then step in when it does not suit you.
“God allowed Jesus to be Crucified and to die. Then, as a solemn sign of His power and glory, God Resurrected Jesus for all to see and believe.
“And even then … even then … many did not believe in God … and in Christ His Son. Many today do not believe still.”
“So sad …” David so wisely said in conclusion.